Response to SOMO / ICN report

28.10.2014

Statement from Primark Stores

 

Primark shares the concern of SOMO and ICN over working and employment conditions in the Southern Indian cotton mill industry.  Primark does not source from the Sulochana mill, contrary to suggestions in the report and contrary to false claims made on the Sulochana website.  Factories contracted to supply garments to Primark source from just one of the mills in the report, the Jeyavishnu Spinntex. The company notes that working and employment conditions there are generally better than in the other mills surveyed in the report. However, Primark accepts that this mill has issues that need rectification and will be continue to work with them to resolve them.

“Primark shares the concern of SOMO and ICN over working and employment conditions in the Southern Indian cotton mill industry. The company welcomes the report and the call to action that it represents.

Primark has in fact been working with the industry and NGOs, to address concerns about conditions in the region for some time. One problem is that retailers often have no direct relationship with mills, which typically supply garment makers which in turn supply retail brands. This indirect relationship means that retail brands sometimes have little leverage over cotton mills.

Factories contracted by the company to produce its garments source from just one of the mills in the report, the Jeyavishnu mill. The company notes that working and employment conditions there are generally better than in the other mills surveyed in the report. However, Primark accepts that this mill has issues that need rectification and will be working with them to resolve them. Primark has a responsibility to deal with issues wherever they are found in the company’s supply chain.

In 2012, Primark put a programme in place in Jeyavishnu to improve women’s health, a critical issue, and workers say that this is already bringing benefits. The company has also inspected the Jeyavishnu mill, using its team of specialist auditors. These investigations will continue, and will form the basis for further action. The company will put its Fair Hiring, Fair Labour programme in place in the mill as soon as possible, to continue the process of improving working and employment conditions.

Primark launched the Fair Hiring, Fair Labour programme with Verite in 2012, an international-based NGO and member of the Alliance to End Slavery & Trafficking. The programme aims to build management system capacity and internal self-monitoring, and provides practical guidance and toolkits on recruitment and hiring; screening brokers and labour agents; on-site management; and hostel management. The toolkits incorporated Verite’s extensive work to date on these issues, including the Help Wanted initiative which covers hiring practices for migrant workers, and the Verite-Manpower Ethical Broker Standards. The programme also incorporated guidance from stakeholders to ensure it was relevant to the local context and culture.

More widely, the company will continue to work with the industry and NGOs to improve conditions in the region’s textile industry as a whole.”

Notes to editors

  1. Primark does not source from the Sulochana mill, contrary to suggestions in the report and contrary to false claims made on the Sulochana website and the website of Sulochana’s garment manufacturing company, Ennem Clothings. Primark’s lawyers have demanded that claims to be a supplier to Primark be removed from the websites immediately.
  2. Primark is a member of the Ethical Trading Initiative’s Tamil Nadu Multi-Stakeholder Group, which aims to develop an action plan to improve working conditions in the region’s textile industry, including in spinning mills. Primark sits on the steering committee of this group. Through this industry-wide initiative, Primark has specifically sought to create programmes that address the concerns of young women working in the industry.
  3. Primark implemented its HERproject on women’s health in the Jeyavishnu mill in 2012. Further information on this initiative can be found at http://www.primark.com/en/our-ethics/communities/health-and-wellbeing.
  4. Primark will implement its Fair Hiring Fair Labour programme at Jeyavishnu. This programme, developed with Verite, aims to improve standards of recruitment and hiring, of the use of brokers and labour agents, of on-site management, and of hostel management.
  5. As part of its work in South India, Primark will also look at improvements to grievance mechanisms and wider adoption of the Fair Hiring Fair Labour programme.
  6. The company also is a member of a local stakeholder forum, The Tirupur Stakeholders Forum, which includes retailers, NGOs, trade unions, and an industry association representing manufacturers in the region. Primark is supportive of the work of the forum in enabling local stakeholders to identify and drive effective solutions.
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